A Note from Joe Flacco

by Joe Flacco 26. October 2012

Joe Flacco

First I want to thank everyone who participated and sent in questions for 1st Mariner Bank’s Flacco Fridays contest. The questions were a lot of fun to read and answer. Even though I was only supposed to answer “5” questions each week, because I appreciate the time everyone took to submit questions, I went back and answered another five. You can read the answers to them at the end of this blog, but first I wanted to give you guys an update on how I think the season is going.

To recap the season to date I would have to say that we are doing okay. Even after a tough loss last week we are in good position going into our bye week. By the way, all of the losses are tough. One of the big reasons we are in good position is due to our situation in the division. Obviously we are going to need to continue to play well the rest of the way but we have put ourselves in a good position so far. We still have both games with Pittsburgh yet to be played and they, like always, will be huge games. All the division games will be that way. I think it is obvious though for the fans that the two with the Steelers will be the biggest.

One thing I know, our team understands the importance of giving it your best each week. If with the help of our fans we can hold our home field advantage we should end up where we all want to be. At home in the playoffs!!!!!!

As the season continues, we have an exciting new contest for you, beginning next week. Be sure to check 1st Mariner’s Facebook page or click here for details.

Bonus Flacco Friday Questions

Q. I have been dying to know how your little boy is doing and are you enjoying parenthood--not really related to football but does affect your game--. (Submitted by Pauletta Linton Vance)

A. My son is doing very well as is my wife and yes I have enjoyed being a new dad. It is a positive distraction. Thanks for asking.


Q. Hi Joe, do you have any pregame rituals or quirky superstitions? (Submitted by Josh Robertson)

A. I don't have any interesting pre-game rituals or superstitions. I do, like most QBs, have a pre-game warm-up I like to go through before each game. In the dead time before games in the locker room I like to just sit and relax.


Q. With your ties to UD (go Blue Hens!), do you see yourself returning to UD after retiring to be a coach and/or advisor to the football team? (Submitted by Katie Brown)

A. I don't at this time see myself returning to UD or anywhere else for that matter in an official football capacity. KC has it covered at UD! I am close with KC though and I can see myself there as a fan.


Q. Who has been the most inspirational person in your life? (Submitted by Tekesha Fiyahfly Martinez)

A. I don't know if you would say I am inspired, but I am and have been fueled and supported by my entire family. From my 4 grandparents and parents to all of my siblings and now my own family. To be a part of a close group who can nurture you early and support you later is a powerful thing. My hope is for everyone to have a similar family support group. It is something we are all capable of creating for ourselves. There is power in numbers, let's all mix in a little compassion and get started today.


Q. Hello Joe. Did you ever wish to be something else besides a football player? (Submitted by Nathan Dunkel)

A. When I was young I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a baseball player or a football player but other than that no.

SpOOky Facts Credit Unions Don't Want You to Know

by Stacy Tharp 24. October 2012

People have been complaining about the big banks for years now. When people get fed up and begin to look for other places to put their money, the same two choices are always suggested: a community bank, or a credit union.

So it’s great to know that there are other options, but with community banks and credit unions always being lumped together into one suggestion, it almost seems like they are interchangeable, when really, they are two quite different options. So how do you differentiate between the two?

Of course you know our vote…*coughcommunitybankcough*…but our choice isn’t completely biased. We know some spOOky facts about credit unions that we would like to share with you.

They might not let you in...or out.

Okay, fine…you are always free to leave a credit union, but you have to admit, that added a spooky twist to the heading! Credit unions are, however, selective about who they allow to join. You generally must meet a specific requirement in order to become a member. So maybe once you’re in, you will be reluctant to leave, even if you have a good reason.

They offer low credit card rates...but there's a catch.

Credit unions often advertise low credit card rates. What they don’t tell you is that with these great rates come not-so-great rewards programs. If you are working on paying off credit card debt, then a low interest rate may be all that matters to you. However, if you always pay your bill in full, the interest rate really shouldn’t matter, and your focus should be on what your credit card provider can do for you.

Fees are on the rise.

One of the biggest complaints about the big banks is their constant seemingly exponential increases in fees. Credit unions pride themselves in having lower fees than banks, but what they don’t tell you is their fees are on the rise as well. It is important to note that with both banks and credit unions, fees will never stay constant, for many reasons. Your safest bet for minimizing fees, wherever you put your money, is to make sure you have accounts that are right for you. This may require you to switch account types every so often. Switching to a credit union simply because their fees are lower right now is not a safe bet in the long run.

Your accounts are all tied together.

To protect themselves against risk, credit unions often have cross-collateralization clauses. What does this mean? Any item being financed or pledged as security will also secure any other debts you have or may have in the future with the credit union. For example, if you have both a credit card and a car loan through your credit union, your car will be used to not only secure your car loan, it will also be used to secure your credit card debt. Legally, credit unions must disclose this to you, but don’t expect to find this information on a flashing neon sign. It will likely be disclosed to you somewhere in fine print, so this cross-collateralization clause often comes as an unpleasant surprise to the people it affects.

Your deposits may be at risk.

Unlike banks, credit unions are not regulated by the FDIC. Less regulation means credit unions are able to use your deposits more freely and take more risks than banks. The majority of credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration, but this is not a requirement for state-chartered credit unions. Before throwing all your money into a credit union, make sure your deposits will be insured, and check the insurance limits.

You won't get as many bells and whistles.

In general, when it comes to account features, credit union accounts give you the bare minimum. Simple. Boring. Raise your hand if this was you five years ago: “Internet? On my PHONE? I don’t need all that, I just want a simple, practical phone that allows me to make simple phone calls.” Now, if you are like most people, you look back and laugh at your old credo. You may be thinking along those same lines when it comes to your bank account. You don’t need any fancy additions - you just simply want a safe place to put your money. But why settle for that when you could get more features and benefits out of your accounts?

No matter where you put your money, it is important that you research the facts of the financial institution, and compare these facts with your current financial situation. The right financial institution for your neighbor might not be the right one for you.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

One Size Fits for Life: Is Your Business in the Right Checking Account?

Top Three Myths About Online Banking Revealed

True or False? Five Myths About Credit Scores Unveiled

Housing Market Slowly Reviving

by Anirban Basu 24. October 2012

Home Sales Prices on the Rise in Maryland


A recent survey indicates that America’s optimism regarding the housing market’s recovery has improved significantly. According to Fannie Mae’s September 2012 National Housing Survey, a monthly poll of 1,000 homeowners and renters, more respondents expect home prices to rise in the next year (37 percent) and the share anticipating declining home prices is down to 11 percent. It is worth noting that such attitudes tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies. People are generally willing to pay more for an asset that they expect to appreciate in value. Importantly, 19 percent of those surveyed say now is a good time to sell, the highest level since the survey began in June 2010. More buyers and sellers translates into a more active market, and that’s good for realtors, title companies and of course, the buyers and sellers themselves.

Already, that renewed confidence working in conjunction with record low or near-record low mortgage rates is having an impact. According to the National Association of Realtors, national existing home sales rose 7.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million in August, up from 4.47 million in July. The number of existing home sales is now 9.3 percent higher than year-ago levels. The national median existing home price for all housing types was $187,400 in August, up 9.5 percent from one year ago.

Maryland’s housing market is also improving. According to data supplied by MRIS and the Coastal Association of Realtors, home sales rose 3.5 percent in July on a year-over-year basis, 9.6 percent in August and 6.1 percent in September. Average and median prices have expanded in Maryland for seven consecutive months through September. Statewide, average sales prices were up 6.1 percent since September 2011 while median prices increased 6.8 percent.

Looking Ahead


Many economists believe that the housing market bottomed toward the end of 2011. This year has been one of improvement, as low mortgage rates, ongoing job creation and growing confidence have ushered forth welcome market dynamics. Unit sales and prices are up and forward looking indicators are also promising. Pending sales in Maryland were up on a year-over-year basis in both August and September. Statewide, pending units were up from 4,986 in September 2011 to 5,609 in September 2012, an improvement of 12 percent. Increasingly, realtors can credibly claim that the best time to buy is now and that if prospective buyers wait too long, they may miss out on highly advantageous mortgage rates and will end up paying more for the dream.

They may also have fewer choices from which to select. The active inventory of unsold homes in Maryland continues to decline. In September 2011, months of inventory stood at 8.5 months. One year later, inventory had dropped to 6 months, which means that market equilibrium has been achieved at last. Presently, seven Maryland jurisdictions have months of inventory below this level. Based on pending sales, inventory is likely to continue to fall, increasing prospects for additional home price appreciation.

 

Anirban Basu is Chairman & CEO of Sage Policy Group, Inc., an economic and policy consulting firm in Baltimore, Maryland. Basu is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's most recognizable economists, in part because of his consulting work on behalf of numerous clients, including prominent developers, bankers, brokerage houses, energy suppliers and law firms. On behalf of government agencies and non-profit organizations, Basu has written several high-profile economic development strategies, including co-authoring Baltimore City's economic growth strategy. His opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of 1st Mariner Bank.



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